One of the best things the internet lets us do is automate work.

An example of this is email newsletters services like MailChimp. With MailChimp’s “Automation” feature, anyone can create a list (say, “Rotary Club”) and then write a series of emails that are automatically delivered to a subscriber. New to Rotary Club? You’ll receive a Welcome note from the local president. And maybe the club has created a series of emails you’ll receive sporadically over your first few months of membership explaining the mission, history, and activities to encourage participation.

All these mundane but important things in the past required enormous time, energy, but basically clerical activity to oversee.

Learning is the same way. For most but the most classical institutions, the process of education is repetitive. And in a world that presently values standardization, exams, etc., much of the process can be self-paced by the student.

But that’s not the world yet. We’re still living in a pre-internet, pre-automation world wherein we take an educator, ask her to draw up her curriculum, and then allot her some number of students. Some will be fast learners, and others slow. Yet everyone is led along the same path in terms of timing and instruction.

We’ve automated lots of the process of work. Self-paced learning should be the next step.